It is a great time to be a millennial because Naomi Osaka is inspiring many to go after their dreams without holding back. Forbes declared the 22-year-old as the highest-paid female athlete in history. She earned a whopping $37.4 million in the last 12 months – a summation of her prize money and endorsement deals beating Serena Williams by $1.4 million to earn the top spot.
Osaka’s name will now go down in history because her earnings has set a record for a female athletes’ earnings in a year. Previously, the top spot had been dominated by Serena Williams in the last four years. Maria Sharapova also had the top spot in 2015 with $29.7 million in earnings and endorsements.
Forbes reports that Osaka and Williams are the only two women to make the magazine’s list for the highest paid athletes in 2020 since 2016.
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“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” says David Carter, a sports business professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business.
“Combine that with being youthful and bicultural, two attributes that help her resonate with younger, global audiences, and the result is the emergence of a global sports marketing icon.”
The 22-year-old beat her idol Williams in what can be said to be an emotional win at the Grand Slam in 2018, and went ahead to win the Australian Open in 2019. According to Forbes, Osaka’s backstory played a significant role in her earnings since her skills are undeniably great.
The Japanese and Haitian-American chose to represent Japan in the events leading to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics that will be held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her heritage made her very relatable to many individuals hence a hot commodity for Olympic sponsors who intend to reach a wide audience.
Sponsors like Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways and Nissin jumped on the Osaka wagon and signed endorsement deals with her to market their products for the Games.
The Japanese public have an unprecedented surge of excitement in anticipation for the Olympics and Osaka is one of the faces that is credited for this mass anticipation of the activities in 2021.